Plants vs. Zombie: Fossil Record Contradicts Evolution

Darwin SignPopular myths are like zombies.  They invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth II: Fossil Record Contradict Evolution

In Evolution? The Fossils Say No! Duane T. Gish wrote that paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould argued that fossil record “does not produce evidence of the gradual change of one plant or animal form into another”(Gish 1979, 172) Gish pointed out that according to Gould fossil record produced evidence for “each kind appeared abruptly”.

A zombie appeared with the hidden assumption that if phyletic gradualism is wrong then Darwinism¹ must also be wrong. This zombie failed to see the difference between two schools of evolutionary biology.

It is true that Gould and Niles Eldredge contended that “[m]ost species, during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent direction.”(Gould & Eldredge 1977, 115) Punctuated equilibria explains the “overlooked phenomenon of marked stability, responding to a pattern where adaptive evolutionary change seems to be concentrated into (relatively) brief episodes, ‘punctuating’ vastly linger intervals where little or no change is accumulated.”(Eldredge 1989, 174)

According to Gould and Niles, most evolutionary modification is concentrated in rapid proceedings of speciation in small, marginally remote populations (1977, 117). Even if we were to assume that “graualistic tale were true, which it is not” (ibid 116) there is limited fossil date to establish the truthfulness such a tale. What were prima facie treated as gaps in fossil data are actually data, stasis period of species proliferation.

Although Charles Robert Darwin in his later works moved towards gradualism, his early stages works showed that he held saltationist view. On page 130 of his Red Notebook, for example, Darwin argued that were there is no gradual change and one species has changed into another, then “it must be per saltum- or species may perish”.

Darwin encountered what paleontologists  found and noted it as a good objection to his theory (Notebook E, 1838). Since “[o]n the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she[nature] should not; for natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by the shortest and slowest steps.”(Darwin 1964, 194) Darwin resolved this objection by appealing to an incomplete fossil record (1964, 310-11)

Even though paleontologists failed to see gradualism, a slow, steady and gradual change of species in fossil record as the only paradigm of Darwinism, they harmonized that broad-spectrum patterns of evolutionary history displayed in the fossil record with another evolutionary biological paradigm, ‘punctuated equilibria’. It is prima facie contra natura non facit saltum of Darwinian gradualism but Darwinism nonetheless.

Bibliography:

Darwin, Charles (1964) On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gish, Duane T. (1979) Evolution: The Fossils Say No! San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers.

Gould, Stephen Jay & Eldredge, Niles (1977) ‘Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered.’ Paleobiology vol. 3: 115-151

Eldredge, Niles (1989) ‘Punctuated equilibra, rates of change and large-scale entities in evolutionary systems.’  Journal of Social and Biological Structures Vol. 12:173-184

Previous Myth: Hume Was An Atheist


[1] I used Darwinianism and Evolution synonymously.

Plants vs. Zombies: Hume Was An Atheist

David Hume

My wife used to love playing a action-strategy game called Plants vs. Zombies. The aim of this game was to arrange and rearrange different types of plants and fungi, as a landowner, around the house to stop a mob of zombies from invading it and eat your brain.

Popular myths are like zombies.  They too, if not stopped, invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth I: David Hume Was An Atheist

In The Presumption of Atheism, Antony Flew’s wrote that David Hume was “the archetypal ancient spokesman for an atheist scientific naturalism”(1976, 52). Reading what some philosophers said about Hume’s Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion, a master piece leveled to refute the classical arguments for existence of God, this zombie ate my brain.

I started planting plants and fungi against this zombie when I began reading  Hume’s original works. I discovered that Hume’s aim was to show that the existence of God, the omnicompetent and wholly good creator is indemonstrable (D 189  cf. 141-2). The whole Dialogues(D) is not whether God exists or not, but if His nature can be known. Both Demea (D 142) and Philo (D 198), Hume’s characters, affirmed God’s existence but diverged on His nature. The problem of evil, for example, was Philo’s case against a benevolent nature of God, not His existence..

Hume’s Natural History of Religion (4:30 & 4:329) reveals that Hume, like Epicurus, was a limited theist. A narrow form of theism, but theism nonetheless.

Next: Myth II: Conflict Between Darwinism and Paleontology

When prejudiced creationists fail to see a zombie-difference between Darwinian gradualism and Darwinian punctuated equilibria.

Bibliography:

Flew, Antony (1976) The Presumption of Atheism . London: Pemberton.

Further Reading: Major Writings of David Hume in contemporary English.